April 27, 2023

The Manitoba government has amended Bill 35 – The Education Administration Amendment Act to accept the MTS demand to include the expressed right to representation during a hearing.

This means a teacher appearing before the disciplinary panel can be represented by a lawyer or a union representative.

“This is an important win, and it only happened because of articulate Manitoba teachers who had the courage to address the Standing Committee at the Bill 35 hearings,” said MTS president Nathan Martindale. “We are so grateful for the support of our members across the province.”

Martindale says the lack of the expressed right to representation was mentioned by almost every one of the more than 70 teachers who presented. “This is a significant victory for each one of our 16,600 members and we are pleased that, on this issue, government listened and acted accordingly.”

The government also amended the bill with specific language to confirm that consultations will occur with “representatives of teachers, employers of teachers, teachers, and any other persons the minister considers appropriate” when establishing the competence standards that a teacher must meet to be issued and maintain a teaching certificate.

“The Society has been calling for the establishment of professional standards for almost five years,” said Martindale. “In fact, we’ve already begun this work at the Society. We are ready to sit down with government.”

MTS also called for an amendment to protect the privacy of teachers who are deemed not to have the capacity to carry out their professional responsibilities due to a physical or mental disability.

The government amended Bill 35 to specify that information included in the public registry must adhere to principles outlined in the Personal Health Information Act (PHIA) regarding the sharing of personal health information unless the public interest substantially outweighs the teacher’s privacy interests.

Martindale says the Society is extremely disappointed the government did not amend sections on the composition of the hearing panel, the broad definition of misconduct, and the inclusion of competence in a bill focused primarily on misconduct.

“We believe strongly that teacher competence has no place in a bill dedicated to misconduct. We have pressed our point in a meeting and correspondence with the Minister. Teachers at the committee hearings echoed those concerns,” he said.

Bill 35 will be read a third time in the legislature and, if passed before June 1, will come into force on a date to be decided after royal assent.